To the left is a mythical representation of the question in Egyptian lore that all who die are asked before they can pass through the gates to the next realm. The question goes something like, "What is the heaviness of your heart?" As the myth goes, your heart is then measured and must weigh less than a feather. If it weighs more than a feather, you are returned to the mortal existence to try again. The following document is something that has weighed heavy on my heart as a community designer and facilitator for several months now and I am relieved to finally release it and let go of my fears on how it will be received.
One of the answers is that focusing on diverse and intersectional identity controls for toxic and polarized identity and behaviors. When everybody is aware of their diversity and is practicing centering the most vulnerable and marginalized amongst us, all belong. Critical Race theory targets historical accounts of conflict and societal evolution to expose the institutionalized racism that became empowered and enforced. This article explains more on why this is a national debate.
Design bias from institutionalized racism is in science, education, and VR and can be deadly. Check the pdf out below and let me know your impression below!
A beloved mentor and friend in my life, Don Carson, shared his 10 principles of environmental story telling a few months ago from his many decades of experience building real life fantasy worlds for organizational giants of imaginal delight like Disneyland and Universal Studios. We have been covering one principle at a time a weekly facebook live event called "Liminality." Don recently challenged me to write my own version of this in what I have learned from my thousands of hours building community and worlds in VR. (Please note: This is a living draft and will be edited and expanded on as time transforms my understanding of how to say these pieces more simply.)
My privilege: I am white-passing, female-passing, have a post-secondary education, have english as my first language, have citizenship by birth and live in the United States, am stable enough in my economics to afford more than basic necessities (such as a VR headset and several website domains).
My marginalized identities: I am biracial, not male passing, non-binary gender, large body sized, and have existed the majority of my life with moderate to severe life-long disability.
My privilege, when not earned and released as a routine process, can make me blind to how I wield my power and inadvertently lead to harm. While intention matters in all of our actions, ultimately, the outcome matters the most. And the outcome in the following story is yet to be determined.
The following post gathered some momentum and discord on Facebook, being one of the most commented on posts (to date as of 3/30/21, 70 comments and counting) I've seen in my 8 months of following this group. I will not post any of the comments below, but for preserving my own development and learning as a community leader, I am reposting my controversial words here. While I do not regret the words I wrote, I still wonder if combining my callout with the community #diversityjam2021 photos was a mistake. I posted a PM to most people in these photos within minutes of posting it asking them if they too felt concerned or did not want to be involved in this post. Most responses expressed gratitude and support, and so I decided to leave it connected.
Social-reparative (or restorative justice) processes are largely missing and not taught in Virtual Reality (VR) social platforms (see below for the few resources I could find where this is beginning). Recognizing and addressing micro-conflicts when they occur is a vital ingredient in order to grow healthy and diverse-inclusive VR social environments that not only provide entertainment and reprieve from the high stress lives we are all living, but can also serve as a transformational educational experience for life-skills and knowledge (e.g., STEAM).
Allowing that cancel culture is the status quo in social VR apps, we begin to see how this short-term avoidance focus blocks learning and creative development for all of us.
The unique isolation and downtime provided by COVID and being a VR beta user of Facebook Horizons has allowed me to further hone my craft of community design and development into virtual reality culture and try out my skills in this emerging field of social technology. In November 2020, I began implementing a coordination of worlds project of creating a Hub-worlds collective where journeys would be linked by users to allow people to hop through or follow a series of world-doors by a theme instead of categories in a menu list. I co-created a Hub-of-hub world called "Between." In December 2020, I supported and helped create two Christmas worlds "Christmas Doors" and "Horizon Christmas 2020."
My scope and fluency with my emotions determines the scope I have to create worlds of wonder and horror. My emotions orient me with different concentrations of story and meaning and amplify how I perceive my world and my place in it.
These are reflections on VR community design experiments, collaborations, and my individual user experience. How do we connect through the virtual reality medium in a way that enhances our connection with self and our real life relationships?